With the American market in mind, Italian styling and Swedish sturdiness at the fore, the P1800 was a global car. Even more so when you see that production was initially undertaken at the Jensen Amazon assembly. Karmann was the first choice, but Volkswagen baulked at the idea, leaving not much choice other than Jensen. By late 1964, production moved home to Sweden. Some say this was because Volvo expanded its facilities while others cite the poor quality control and finish at Jensen as the reason. Whatever the situation, Volvo rebadged the P1800 as 1800S (‘S’ supposedly symbolising Sweden), gave it another 8 horses and a few minor cosmetic alterations. 1966 saw a few tweaks to the engine resulting in 115bhp and a top speed of 175km/h. A 2-litre engine found its way in from 1967 but the name remained P1800S.
By 1970, Volvo started feeling market and technological pressure from the rivals, resulting in the addition of a Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection (badged 1800E) model that churned out 130bhp and was claimed to be good for 190km/h without upsetting the fuel consumption. In addition, the ‘E’ received discs on all corners.
While the 544 and 122S models made inroads into the market with sporting achievements, the P1800 can thank the television divine intervention for some good PR, as Simon Templar (Roger Moore) chased around the roads in the cold-war mystery spy thriller The Saint. Volvo supplied four P1800s for use in the TV series for the dapper British ladies’ man, Templar. And of course, the number plate ‘TS-1’ alluded to ‘Templar Saint 1’.